Last season on The Bachelor, America—or at least the significant portions of America that mainline network television for multiple hours every Monday night—fell in love. Not, as the producers may have hoped, with Nick Viall, a man who was 90 percent sweater and 10 percent stubble, or with his soon-to-be fiancée, a Canadian. Instead, we fell head over heels for Rachel Lindsay, a full-time attorney and part-time Disney princess. Rachel had it all: beauty (she was pretty), personality (she had a gap tooth), and brains (a job!). More importantly, she approached The Bachelor franchise with a refreshing amount of skepticism and sanity, leading viewers to wonder if Rachel Lindsay might be an actual, well-adjusted human being, as opposed to a smiling blonde robot who has been specifically engineered to produce sponsored social media content.
Naturally, Bachelor Nation was hyped to learn that Lindsay would be the next bachelorette. Of course, because we can’t have nice things, Lindsay’s reign as the franchise’s first black bachelorette quickly gave way to on-screen microaggressions and offensive think pieces. Suddenly, one woman’s personal journey to make out with as many dudes as possible on camera became a public crisis. Bloggers and Lindsay stans worried that the pool of contestants wouldn’t be ethnically diverse enough, and that our poor Rachel would find herself struggling to conjure up chemistry with a lackluster collection of Bretts and Bens. All of our furtive hopes that The Bachelor franchise might actually be capable of racial sensitivity and nuance appeared to immediately go up in flames when one of the first (white) suitors proclaimed, “I’m ready to go black and I’m never going to go back,” throwing Rachel a self-satisfied grin and waiting for his double chocolate chip cookie.
Lindsay’s season begs an important question: how many dudes in America are ready to find love on-camera, drink protein powder, and aren’t low-key racist? Apparently, fewer than 31. When Lindsay started her season with just over 30 potential boyfriends, it quickly became apparent that there was more than one turd in the contestant pool. Just take a look at these boys’ Bachelorette bios, which offer a surreal window into the sad, strange world of American masculinity. There’s Alex, whose “top 3 favorite groups/artists” are “Coldplay, Beatles…Can’t really think of a third one.” (???) Even your freshman year college boyfriend had the decency to pretend to like Snoop Dogg or Tupac. Then there’s Kenny, whose “wildest” sexual experience was literally cuckolding a married man while he watched. Also, Jonathan’s “occupation” is “tickle monster,” a great entry-level position for aspiring sex offenders!
Additionally, in these bios—which should be an opportunity to present yourself in the best possible light—two separate dudes took it upon themselves to make transphobic remarks. Lucas aka Whaboom Guy aka I Don’t Want to Talk About It said that if he could have lunch with one person, it would be “Dead: Bruce Jenner, Alive: Caitlyn Jenner,” which is both offensive and not what the question was asking. Congratulations, Lucas! You’re dumb and transphobic. Bryce P. decided to go a similar route when he shared that his biggest dating fear is that “The chick is actually a dude.” ABC was appropriately troubled by Bryce’s response, and released the following statement: “This comment does not reflect the views of ABC, Warner Horizon or bachelorette Rachel Lindsay. We have removed it from ABC.com.” But the most satisfactory clap back came courtesy of Jen Richards. “Dear Bryce,” the actress tweeted, “on behalf of trans women I can assure you: none of us want to date your bland preppy 1980s teen movie villain rhombus ass.”
Unfortunately, pre-season drama proved itself to be the least of Lindsay’s worries. On the latest episode of The Bachelorette, Rachel had to cross-examine one of her suitors, DeMario, after his girlfriend Lexi showed up at a group date to confront him. While Lexi’s iconic performance as a slightly unhinged lover/bearer of bad receipts is Oscar-worthy (or, at the very least, should earn her a spot on Bachelor in Paradise), Lindsay is the true star of the confrontation. She quickly sees through DeMario’s admittedly half-baked excuses and sends him packing. Lindsay is visibly upset by this interaction, and we see her fuming about how she feels used and played. At this point, I just want Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to wrap his arms around Rachel five to six times and fly her away to a warm and safe place, where she’ll never have to comfort a crying white boy or confront a lying asshole ever again.
While DeMario was the obvious villain of this episode, we’re still in the early days. That means that another man-child will have to come out of the woodwork to start some drama in the house and/or make our bachelorette cry. According to the promos for the rest of the season, it appears that Lee Garrett, an aspiring country singer, might be positioning himself for this role. In the footage, we see Garrett referring to himself as the only “country boy” in the house and warning, “I'm going to have problems with some of these guys in here.” Is this coded language for “I am white, and I do not like/trust black people?” Well, probably! So far, Garrett’s most egregious onscreen qualities have been his inability to play basketball and the fact that he is literally always black out drunk. But—shocker!—this “country” drunk seems to have a dark side.
After an International Business Times reporter did some cyber sleuthing, a treasure trove of vintage Lee Garrett tweets hit the interwebs. These tweets reveal that Garrett is on the #TrumpTrain, and that he believes protesters are “sore losers.” And for a man who’s in the running for a career woman’s heart, Garrett appears to have some very antiquated views on gender. After learning about the “meninist” movement, Garrett shared online that he had found his “calling.” He also tweeted, “Guys…When is the last time YOU actually saw a pretty feminist?? There is a reason for this.”
Equally if not more concerning are Garrett’s #hot #takes on race and religion. In a series of tweets from June 2016, he writes, “I wholeheartedly support inhumane torture of terrorists…I don’t hate Muslims, I do hate Islam…The Orlando terrorist was a devout muslim and registered democrat.” And on July 9th, the Nashville-based provocateur shared a link to a petition, captioned, “Thousands sign petition to recognize #BlackLivesMatter as terrorist group after Dallas.” He also shared an article titled, “Newly released video DESTROYS liberal narrative on Alton Sterling shooting” and put “White Privilege” in quotation marks.
Since Garrett’s Twitter bio includes descriptors like, “Pleasantly Offensive” and “Facetious,” we can only assume that he’s attempting to cultivate some sort of online brand. But seeing as he only had 392 Twitter followers at press time, it hardly seems worth it—especially since the black woman he’s ostensibly wooing now knows that he equates BLM with terrorism. And Rachel Lindsay can’t stand to be misled or played.
Of course, this all raises the bigger question of whether Lee was specifically planted by producers to stir up racial drama and out himself as the token bigot. And, if so, is milking prejudice for drama and ratings—not to mention stirring up physical fights—fair game?
ABC declined to comment for this article, and Lee Garrett did not respond to my Twitter DM.